HAM Radio 101

Ham Radio History: Radio Boys

When it comes to classic literature, Ham Radio rarely plays a prominent role. After all, Steinbeck wrote Of Mice and Men, not Of Mics and Men. And despite his name, Hamlet was much more into soliloquies rather than a good rag-chew. But back in the early days of radio, no less than three series of “Radio Boys” books (similar to the more familiar Hardy Boys adventures) were published, including the 13-volume series authored under the name Allen Chapman (a pseudonym used by publisher Edward Stratemeyer).

The series, produced from 1922-1930, featured titles including The Radio Boys’ First Wireless, The Radio Boys at the Sending Station, and The Radio Boys with the Flood Fighters. Along with detailing how to make a wireless set, the books told thrilling tales of heroic rescues, perilous escapes, and bad guys getting their just desserts. A series of “Radio Girls” books was published from 1922-1924.

The forewords of “The Radio Boys” books were written by Jack Binns, a wireless operator who is recognized for saving the lives of passengers aboard the RMS Republic (a White Star liner), which was struck by a cargo ship on January 23, 1909. Using a Marconi wireless telegraphy transmitter, Binns sent a CQD distress call that is said to have saved 1,500 people from drowning in the frigid waters off Nantucket, Massachusetts. In 1911, Binns was assigned to be a wireless operator aboard the RMS Titanic but was pulled from the assignment, as it was feared he would bring bad luck to the ship. The RMS Titanic would sink a year later, killing as many people as were saved on the RMS Republic.

Click here to read more about Jack Binns and the first rescue at open sea coordinated by wireless.

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